AFL: Essendon v Brisbane Lions: Round 8 Preview


Essendon Football Club

Essendon Football Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overview

Essendon and the Lions are sitting at polar opposite positions on the ladder.  The Bombers have found a rejuvenated strength and belief in 2013, culminating in six victories in the first seven rounds, losing only to powerhouse team Geelong.  The Lions just have not found the gear that they shifted into during the pre-season, and it has proved costly.

Running the ball down the ground, and an incredibly solid backline have been key assets to the Bombers roaring start to the season.  By finding space and not giving their opponents a chance, there is a huge belief in the red and black army.

Have a look at the Lions, and recent weeks have had “danger” written all over them.  There is huge potential on the list, but not being able to stay with opponents for a full game and being caught in defence has caused Michael Voss‘ tenure to become somewhat fragile.

Brisbane Lions

There’s a lot to like on the young Lions list in 2013.  If players can apply themselves to the contest, and have a crack at second efforts, then the competitiveness will skyrocket.  Effort is the key against Essendon in Melbourne, and right from the first bounce to the siren the competitiveness needs to stay sharp.

With the Essendon backline incredibly strong, Brisbane need to push the ball quickly up to the forward line in a bid to catch out the defenders and not get flat footed trying to push out of their own defensive 50.  Pearce Hanley needs to continue his excellent early season form, and work in tandem with Daniel Merrett and Joel Patfull to deliver the ball to the likes of Jonathan Brown and James Polkinghorne.

The return of utility Brent Staker is a massive boost, and a desperately needed set of running legs through the midfield.  His mission, along with Jack Redden, Tom Rockliff and Brent Moloney will be to eliminate the Essendon forward drive, while at the same time giving opportunities for the Lions forwards.

Essendon

Enhanced by ZemantaAfter being served their first loss by powerhouse Geelong last week, the Bombers have regrouped and brought in several strong changes for Saturday’s clash.  Having Patrick Ryder, Jackson Merrett and Brett Stanton back in the side strengthens a team that is playing with a renewed sense of belief and energy.
If Brisbane big man Jonathan Brown can be shut down, the Bombers have already stifled one key Brisbane path to goal.  Jake Carlisle, Michael Hibberd and veteran Dustin Fletcher can run rings down back, and the all round power of the squad will be the biggest worry for the Lions.
With the multitude of tall options available (Stewart Crameri, Michael Hurley, Tom Bellchambers) the Lions back line could be severely stretched.  Getting the ball through the centre corridor swiftly and cleanly could quell the Lions run.  Skipper Watson is reaching some incredible heights in 2013, and if he is fired up, so are the Bombers.
Prediction

Brisbane Lions (Google Images)

Brisbane Lions (Google Images)

In Melbourne, it’s all signs pointing to Essendon.  Despite seeing two wins apiece in the last five encounters, the Bombers have by far been the premier of these two teams this season.  Even with a Lions squad nearing full strength, Essendon are on a roll.  An early push forward from Brisbane will be a good platform to spring their game into action.  However, the agility and tactics from the Bombers suggest they are up to the challenge to grab their 7th win.  BOMBERS by 40 points

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